Activism is hard work

We understand. MEA’s Activist in Residence program provides a rest from the labor and a spotlight for the work.

Restoration. Reflection. Recognition.

In these extraordinary times, activists are all around us — putting energy, wisdom, heart and soul into changing the world. There are many themes in social justice today and the Modern Elder Academy (MEA) is dedicated to changing the way the world views aging. We know that activism can be exhausting, thankless, and deeply meaningful work. So we created our Activist in Residence (AIR) program.

The AIR program is meant to nurture, and to note, those who are in this conversation about aging with us, through dedication and service to their communities and beyond. By providing a healing environment to restore and reflect, and an opportunity to amplify their voices, projects, and organizations via our expansive network, the AIR program is designed to recognize these activists and to introduce their work and wisdom to the global MEA community.

Surviving + Thriving in the Time of COVID

MEA is the first-of-its-kind midlife wisdom school leading the conversation on transforming aging, intergenerational collaboration, and "long life learning." Due to the pandemic, we had to postpone our weekly intensive academic programs and scholarships for the 2020-21 season. We were able to continue to provide meaningful MEA experiences with our  Sabbatical Sessions program, which has proven to be very popular with new and returning alumni. We're happy to have resumed our workshops and now alternate with Sabbatical Sessions. And our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion continues with the AIR program as we honor and support those who are doing the hard work of activism in their communities. We are grateful to the Association for Growth and Education (AGE) for generously funding the first year of AIR and we look forward to continuing the program later this year (dates TBD).

Anderson Cooper

AIR Program Details

The AIR program is for those who can demonstrate a commitment to community service and to challenging ageism and related social issues. Applicants should meet the following criteria.

21 or older
Speak English
Submit a personal statement
Meet financial status requirements
Provide (2) references related to activism
Currently engaged in activism toward social change
In good health and able to travel to Baja California Sur, Mexico
Willing to share social cause and activism with the MEA community

The AIR program offers a respite for body, mind, and spirit with expanded awareness of your cause and your work. The award offers the benefits of an MEA Residency and Activism Platform.

MEA Residency: One-week all-inclusive stay at MEA’s oceanfront campus

Airfare & expenses stipend
Private airport ground transport
Educational programming (stet)
Mindfulness programming

MEA Community: Various ways we can amplify your activism

Private session with MEA co-founder
Wisdom Well guest blog post
Community Interview
Story shared on our website

With their work focused on Ageism, AIR activists can be defined as artists, community organizers, volunteers, advocates, entrepreneurs, and educators committed to social change.

You need not be an academic, or formally attached to an organization. Starting grass roots projects, serving people hit hard by COVID and other disasters, or working with young people to help them understand the wisdom of older all counts. Successful applicants will demonstrate relevant community service, organizing, research, movement building, or related work experience, and an interest in responding to the needs of underserved communities, with ageism as a key focus (we understand that age and other social needs often go hand in hand).

The AIR program will resume in 2022 (TBD). Scroll down to apply or you can nominate an activist in your community.

Application Deadline

Please sign up for our newsletter to receive updates on the opening of applications and nominations in 2022.

Recipient Announcement

We will contact awardees via email and phone no later than April 1, 2021.
Award recipients must respond and accept within one week of notification or the award will be offered to another applicant.

AIR Awardees

In our first year of the AIR program we welcomed nine dedicated and inspiring activists to MEA’s Baja campus. Their work covers a wide range of societal needs and we were truly impressed and motivated by each awardee.

AY Young is an artist, entrepreneur and sustainability activist — a multi-talented force and source of positivity. His Battery Tour concerts are powered with 100% renewable energy and his work is based on the belief that “everyone is an outlet for change.” AY was named one of the United Nations 17 young leaders for their global goals for sustainable development. His song, We Can Change The World, was selected by legendary environmentalist Paul Hawken as the anthem for his new book, Regeneration.

Evelyn Reynolds is a writer, educator and passionate community organizer. An Associate Professor of Sociology at Parkland College in Champaign, IL, she co-founded Black Lives Matter: Champaign-Urbana, a chapter of the global #Blacklivesmatter Network and has authored a number of articles including Aging While Black. As a professor and mother of two elementary school children, addressing educational disparities has been her ongoing activist work and she plans to write more about aging and racism.

Elizabeth Tamez is the founder and executive director of New Generation3 (NG3) where her passion is to “teach young people to dream.” Originally from Mexico, her activism started in the U.S. when she volunteered in the immigrant community and witnessed the hardships young people faced to get an education. Elizabeth joined forces in the community and created a holistic strategy to bridge the academic achievement gap, encouraging young people to seek elders' wisdom and guidance to build their dreams.

Raines Cohen is a veteran community organizer who has focused for decades on Senior Cohousing and helping people age well and live well together. He serves on the Sage-ing International board, is a founding member of The Elders Guild in Berkeley, and what is now Elders Action Network, which incubated and launched Elders Climate Action. Raines founded Cohousing California with his wife and activist partner, Betsy Morris, to forward their passion for green, affordable, and intentional communities.

Chip Goines is a Boston-based political activist and writer. His recent work was on the winning mayoral campaign for Michelle Wu — the first elected woman of color in the position in the city’s history (previously campaigning for U.S. Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, helping her to become Massachusetts’ first Black woman representative). In 2020, WGBH featured this piece as one of their top 5 essays of the year. A “late bloomer” to activism, Chip proves you can jump in at any time and have an impact.

Carly Sotas was a motivated teen from a tiny Canadian town when she reached out to a NYC style icon and visual artist to ask her to be her mentor. Their relationship bridged five decades between them, ultimately motivating our youngest AIR awardee, and gifted entrepreneur, to build her own mentoring platform, Ment, paving the way for more intergenerational duos. Carly credits her mentor for the inspiration to connect mentors and mentees who are dedicated to making a positive impact in the world.

Tom Kamber’s social activism began in high school as an environmental justice canvasser and led him all the way to starting a non-profit at his kitchen table in 2004. Today he is the founder and executive director of OATS (Older Adults Technology Services) and Senior Planet. OATS started by offering free technology classes for seniors, eventually opening Senior Planet, which helps older adults learn technology skills for job training, social engagement, and advocacy, now offered in other states.

Marlon Guarino and Lorenia Parada bring more than 25 years of individual professional experience in intercultural sensitivity, body-mind psychology, and human development together with more than 17 years as a couple. Trained as psychotherapist and relationship counselors, they support individuals, couples, groups, and local community organizations in developing healthier relationships and healing multi-generational traumas. They’ve led workshops and seminars in South America, Mexico, and the USA.

Calling All Activists

Devoted to fighting ageism in these extraordinary times? You deserve a break. And a spotlight on your hard work. We invite you to apply for an AIR residency at our campus. To restore. To reflect. And to be recognized for your service. Apply yourself or nominate someone. Applications will resume later in 2022 (date TBD).

Anderson Cooper

Frequently Asked Questions

See our Activist in Residence program FAQ below. For questions related to MEA’s Sabbatical Sessions, COVID precautions, and booking/travel, please click here.

What is the AIR award?

What is the activism focus?

May I apply as a previous MEA scholarship recipient?

May I nominate someone else?

How is AIR funded?

How many AIR awards will be granted?

When does the AIR program take place?

What is the deadline to apply?

When and how will you notify AIR recipients?

Is there a contact for questions?

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